The UK retained fifth place in the World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index despite fears of the possible negative impacts of Britain exiting the EU.
However, the UK remains behind Spain, France and Germany which retained the top three places in the 2017 Index.
The US fell two places to sixth having been replaced by Japan which rose five places to fourth.
The Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index ranks the “tourism friendliness” of 136 countries across 14 areas, including accessibility, affordability, infrastructure, security, sustainability, regulation and taxation.
The 2017 Index notes: “The increasingly protectionist global context is hindering global trade [but] is not holding back international travel.
“The travel and tourism sector in many countries remains a bright spot in economic and job growth.”
However, it also finds: “Technological and sustainability challenges are growing. Environmental challenges remain and many countries underperform in making technological strides.”
Although Spain, France and Germany continue to top the rankings, the Index found: “Asia’s largest economies show the greatest rise in tourism-friendliness.”
Almost all the leading Asian countries improved their ranking – Hong Kong was up two places to 11th, China up two to 15th, the Republic of Korea up 10 to 19th and India up 12 places to 40th.
Tiffany Misrahi of the World Economic Forum’s the aviation, travel and tourism industries, said: “The Asian Tourism Century is becoming a reality.”
World Economic Forum economist Roberto Crotti said: “The increasing importance of demand from emerging markets and technology are changing the travel and tourism sector’s landscape at a fast rate.
“The capacity of countries to respond to and embrace these structural shifts will determine the future success of destinations.”
The index is produced by the World Economic Forum with partners including the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), the World Travel and Tourism council (WTTC), airline association IATA, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and business consultancy Deloitte.
The top ten rankings were completed by Australia (seventh), Italy (eighth), Canada (ninth) and Switzerland (tenth).